In the group stage, all three of Dax McCarty, Eric Lichaj, and Matt Hedges featured as the US came away with first place in their group. Manager Bruce Arena had the opportunity to swap in up to six new player for the knockout rounds. He did so, but all three former Tar Heels remained on the roster and got minutes at some point after group play.
In the quarterfinal against El Salvador, Lichaj and Hedges both got starts in defense. With the US up 1-0 late in the first half, Lichaj found himself up the other end of the field, and scored the United States’ second goal of the game.
The US held that 2-0 throughout the second half. Lichaj and Hedges played all 90 minutes in defense as the US kept El Salvador off the board.
Despite the win in the quarterfinal, both former Tar Heels were moved from the starting lineup for the semifinal against Costa Rica. Only McCarty would get any minutes, coming on as a substitute late in the second half. He was solid in his short time on the field, and nearly helped played a part in a third goal. The US ended up again winning 2-0.
Again in the final, no Tar Heels started the match as the US defeated Jamaica 2-1 in a tight win. McCarty again was brought into the game late as the United States tried to seal the win. He didn’t need to do much as the US won the match and the tournament.
This roster did not feature several players who will make the US team for the World Cup next summer. None of the three former Tar Heels are assured of a place on next year’s team. However, they did all have their moments in a cup-winning team. They still have a year to play their way into a place in the World Cup.